Possibly missing the point of a vacation, but there’s no time for that

It's a beautiful day to be on top of the world!
It’s a beautiful day to be on top of the world!

Waking up at 8 o’clock is my favorite, I think. This is my new reality for the month of September, since Medill, along with the rest of Northwestern, is on break for most of it. 8 a.m. is nice: the air is clear, the birds are singing, and I don’t have to join the harried 9-to-5ers on the train. I can sit here in my kitchen with the windows open, taking my time with this tea.

Yesterday I hit a panic point in my staycation. As the quarter got more and more overwhelming, I just let a lot of things go, and my apartment has been paying the price: dishes piling up, laundry all over the floor, papers scattered everywhere. It’s a parody of how a grad student lives. (Don’t look, Dad.) You know that “Clean ALL the things!” comic? That hit me around 8 o’clock last night. All of a sudden, after spending days on my couch hoping Tumblr would be more interesting with this push of the refresh button, I was clearing off countertops, loading up the dishwasher, savagely reorganizing, ready to purge and recycle and straighten up.

This happens with me. I have to go a certain amount of time and let myself get really bored and restless so I can throw myself into big projects. This one feels different, though. This one has an undercurrent of existential terror.

I have this idea. And dammit, it's going to happen and work.
I have this idea. And dammit, it’s going to happen and work.

Next month I begin my last quarter at grad school, and I really should be working on early-stage job hunting now. I need to update my resume according to the very helpful suggestions from that career office visit in July. I need to contact some alums and do some informational interviews. I should be clarifying my thoughts on my thesis project, so I’ll have something really great to show for my time in school. I need to (here it comes) make a potential move easier on myself by getting my apartment less cluttered now, while I have the time, rather than, say, in two weeks before the end of some godawful winter month.

My hope had actually been to travel this month. My dream had been a trip overseas, something I haven’t been able to do since 2010 (and that was the first time since 2003), but I was too swamped to plan during the quarter. I had been thinking of taking an Amtrak train out to Washington, D.C., where a ton of very dear friends whom I haven’t seen for a long time live. (As do a couple of publications that I’d love to work for.) But I’ve gotten paralyzed about planning that, and now it seems too late to swoop in and impose myself. Besides, I have so much to do at home, so much. And I’m working on this new running routine, and I have this novella I want to write, and I’m trying to cook more, and I want to buy a DSLR camera and learn to use it better, and I’d like to try and make some physical art (papier-mâché is fun!), and I have things to organize and improve on this site, and actually practice my ukulele so I can justify buying a beautiful new one, and, and, and—

It made me smile even not at Christmas.
It made me smile even not at Christmas.

(And, I tell myself, my time in Chicago could be running out, after the better part of 11 years here. I’m working hard to inure myself to this. I love this city, and I’m not confident that the right job for me is here, and I’ve spent a lot of energy trying not to grieve this, and the things that have not or may not happen here.)

So, this break is proving to be not very restful at all, at its heart. I love the 8 a.m. to midnight schedule, but I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself (and I need to be; I just wish that would result in productivity, not anxiety and resentment).

I’m having some fun, though, don’t worry. Today and tomorrow I’ll be at the Hideout Block Party, where I’ll finally get to see my beloved Neko Case live. I have plans with a friend to bike up to the Chicago Botanic Garden, which combines at least three things that I’ve been wanting to do for a while. And sometime in the last three weeks I’ve become this person who gets irritated that it’s a Zombies, Run! rest day, so I’m looking into getting non-running physical activity into my schedule. (Yoga, we meet again!)

But no, really, it’s going to be okay. There are a couple of places existential terror can take you, and I know which route I’m willing to go.

2 thoughts on “Possibly missing the point of a vacation, but there’s no time for that”

  1. Staycations are lovely! I mean, I pretty much never have anything going on and the spare beds at my place are always open if you do decide to come visit, but that goes for whenever works for you, too! Travel stresses me out so friggin’ much, I will never judge anyone for a staycation. The important thing is that you enjoy yourself and actually do make it like a vacation: which is to say, take some time to have fun and do self-indulgent things.

    And drink a lot of self-indulgent things, that too.

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